“My name was Oliver Queen…”
Now that’s an interesting start to the hour that shares its title with Oliver’s new name, Al Sah-him. The Heir to the Demon trades his bow and arrow for a sparking sword in order to train with Ra’s al Ghul … in between bouts of psychological torture and brainwashing, that is. Apparently three weeks is all it took for Oliver to fully accept his new name, but is he just faking it? Ra’s puts his loyalty to the test when the assassins capture Diggle and present him to Al Sah-him. Though Diggle tries to tell Oliver that he’s been trapped in Nanda Parbat along with the others, Al Sah-him gives him a sword and a chance to earn his freedom in a duel … one that ends with the Heir to the Demon stabbing Diggle through the heart. Thankfully (for Diggle, not the poor guy who just got murdered), Oliver was merely under the influence of a hallucinogenic drug. For the moment, anyway.
Ra’s walks Al Sah-him (and the viewers) through his past with a mysterious figure named Damien Darhk. It seems that this ancient enemy of Ra’s’ has dipped into the Lazarus waters and is still going strong to this day, using his own shadowy operation to cause havoc in the world (ie trying to purchase the Markov Device, Malcolm Merlyn’s earthquake machine). Since Ra’s failed to eliminate this threat in his past, it now falls to Al Sah-him to carry out the assassination. This is a pretty interesting twist/reveal for Ra’s and his true motives, flipping him from all-out villain to more of a gray-area character. Are his actions more palatable now that we know there’s a greater evil in the land? And can we blame him for recruiting Oliver to his cause? I’m sure Team Arrow will have a few thoughts on that front.
Back in Starling City, Laurel continues masquerading as the Canary, but despite Nyssa’s training, she’s not doing all that hot. The ladies take a break for milkshakes and fries because why not. It’s actually an OK moment between the two as they move past their mutual loss of Sara, but once things turn back to Oliver’s presence in Nanda Parbat, the mood goes sour. Can you blame Nyssa? She was supposed to be the heir, after all. Regardless of how things were supposed to work out, Nyssa now fears the reprisals of betraying the League of Assassins, and rightly so, since Al Sah-him is back in the city and leading the charge.
Meanwhile, at Diggle’s house, the remnants of the gang try to regroup after Oliver’s departure. Thea’s looking pretty decent despite being mostly dead a few weeks earlier. Unfortunately their happy times together are not meant to last since Laurel soon brings Nyssa’s plight to the rest of the team. She practically begs them to help the assassin survive Oliver and the League. Diggle tries to play it practical and Felicity is sticking with the “Oliver hasn’t changed” card, so Laurel tugs on their heartstrings and brings up what Nyssa did for Sara. Say no more, Team Arrow is on it (but will Thea Queen soon join the party?).
Nyssa and Al Sah-him square off on their favorite fighting ground: a rooftop. Nyssa throws Sara’s death in Ollie’s face before taking the fight to him. They’ve both trained under Ra’s al Ghul and have spent years honing their skills, but Al Sah-him quickly gains the upper hand. He’s about to behead Nyssa in the exact same spot that Sara was shot, but Laurel’s Canary Cry puts a stop to it. (Thanks, Cisco!) Outnumbered and outgunned, Al Sah-him opts to hop off the rooftop rather than fight … for now.
As Team Arrow regroups, each of them react differently to Oliver’s new behavior. Laurel tries to encourage Nyssa to keep fighting while Diggle comforts a fragile Felicity. Thea and Malcolm have a rather ironic conversation about Ollie being brainwashed into becoming a killer. Al Sah-him, however, is not swayed by his emotions as he opts to draw Nyssa out away from the protection of her allies and remove her as a threat. Step One: Kidnap Lyla. Step Two: Use her as leverage to get Diggle to deliver Nyssa to, you guessed it, an abandoned warehouse. (I love finally seeing Diggle go nuclear. Maybe they should get him a costume!)
The Diggles are a damned tough couple. Diggle practically drags Nyssa off to her death and a captured Lyla drags Oliver’s pride through the mud, decrying his current behavior. True to his word, however, Al Sah-him releases Lyla once Nyssa is handed over, but they’re not all out of the woods just yet. As Lyla embraces her saviors, she also draws two hidden pistols out of Felicity’s coat, and all Hell breaks loose. Team Arrow squares off against members of the League of Assassins, with Nyssa falling and being dragged away to a waiting plane. Al Sah-him and Diggle re-enact their earlier battle with Oliver winning once again, but before he can deliver the killing stroke, an arrow pierces his wrist. Who fired it? Noneother than the newly hooded archer, Thea Queen.
In Nanda Parbat, Al Sah-him delivers Nyssa to Ra’s al Ghul. The Demon’s Head is searching for something as of yet not revealed to us. Opening a hidden compartment in Nyssa’s sword, Ra’s retrieves a cylinder … could it be remnants of the bio-weapon we’ve seen devastate the populace in the flashbacks this season? Al Sah-him is about to permanently remove Nyssa as a threat, but Ra’s stops him, saying that she’s already been broken. Instead of killing her, Ra’s offers her up as Al Sah-him’s wife. (Neither of them seem happy about this arrangement and their faces are absolutely priceless.)
Tying up loose ends this hour, Felicity reveals to Thea that Roy is alive (and gives her his contact info), Diggle patches things up with his family, Laurel enjoys another (solo) round of fries and milkshakes, and Felicity has a good cry. Meanwhile, Ra’s ushers Al Sah-him into the sanctuary of the Lazarus pits where he reveals the vial of the Omega bio-weapon, which he plans to unleash on Starling City…
Back in Hong Kong. the effects of the bio-weapon are starting to spread through the city. The Yamashiros attempt to get back to Akio but are cut off by the sickening crowds. Once they discover that Shrieve’s men are handing out more of the virus in the guise of vaccines, they take the operation down at the barrel of a gun and the edge of a blade … and an explosion. They manage to rescue little Akio, but on their way out of the city, the youngest Yamashiro begins to show signs of infection.
Now that we know how evil Ra’s al Ghul really is (I mean, who forces their daughter to marry in this day and age? Oh, you meant the bio-terrorism. Right, right.), I can’t imagine Oliver staying Al Sah-him much longer; in fact, I give him just slightly less than two episodes. Still, it’s fun to see Stephen Amell channeling his dark side without having to justify his actions or wrestle with those pesky interruptions from his conscience. While it’s a foregone conclusion that Oliver will come around to his true self before the season’s final moments, the question is, just how will that come about? Killing his best friend (imaginary or otherwise) didn’t change him, getting shot by his kid sister didn’t sway him, and being tasked with exterminating the citizens he’s been protecting for three seasons didn’t even make him blink. (The only time he looked nonplussed is when he was told he’d be marrying Nyssa!)
I’m expecting big things from these next two episodes and I can’t wait to see how it all ends. Let me know your predictions and reactions in the comments below!
Rating: ★★★★ Very Good
Al Sah-him: “Where are we going?” Ra’s al Ghul: “The past. A place known only to the dead.”
Nyssa: “What is a black-and-white milkshake?”
Felicity: “Here comes the CAT-5 prong into the Ethernet port!”
I’m not 100% sure about this Laurel/Nyssa storyline but … is there supposed to be something sexy going on between them? #WishfulThinking
Would you still trust Oliver, even if he led the League of Assassins into your city to hunt you down? How strong is your faith in the vigilante?
Diggle: “You’re still Oliver. I don’t care if the hood is black or green, you’re still you!”
Thea: “Gone, but never forgotten.”
Ra’s: “You will marry Al Sah-him, and you will become Bride of the Demon!”
Felicity: “Thea, Roy’s alive. We faked his death. We were going to tell you but then you were mostly dead and Oliver was busy turning into Darth Oliver…”